Mandy has the distinct honour of being Nigeria’s number one female comedian. Her breakthrough it was that paved the way for other comediennes like Princess, Helen Paul and Lepacious Bose. In this interview with OSEYIZA OOGBODO, the Queen of Comedy bares her mind on sundry issues. Excerpts:
What’s the latest about you?
Nothing much. Last year, about this time, I was running around concerning the celebration of my 25 years in the entertainment industry. This year, I was working on an all-female show until I got a direct message from Chigurl that she’s working on a similar thing. So, for now, I will just keep anchoring events. I’ve not recovered from all the financial wahala of last year; so, with this economy, I’m just chilling and catching.
How are you managing to remain relevant with the rise of many more comedians and comediennes?
When you know your crowd and you understand their needs, you just keeping finding new ways to make them laugh. I tell people I work almost every week and people are like, how? I say check my Facebook and Instagram posts. I don’t make noise. I concentrate on each event and when I anchor, I give it my all as if it’s my last and people walk up to me always to say ‘wow, you are good, can I get your number?’ I don’t look at the inflow. I work on my craft. That’s the way I stay relevant. I don’t make so much noise and when people use you for one event, they never call you back. I’m the underdog. Most times, from one event, I get over ten bookings. I believe the sky is big enough for all of us to fly, but my major strategy is playing the underdog card. ‘I hear about you. This is the first time I’m watching you. You crack your jokes in English. Wow! You made me laugh, I can relate.’ So, I tell people I’m tailored to suit any event. But my strongest point is in an intellectual gathering. Also, each comedian has a selling point and target audience; so no worries about the inflow.
What would you say is your major contribution to the growth of comedy?
My major contribution is allowing other comediennes know it’s possible to become a standup comedian.
I work on my craft. That’s the way I stay relevant. I don’t make so much noise and when people use you for one event, they never call you back. I’m the underdog. Most times, from one event, I get over ten bookings. I believe the sky is big enough for all of us to fly, but my major strategy is playing the underdog card
How many countries have you performed?
Mostly in Africa. When Bros Opa Williams of Nite Of A Thousand laughs wanted to take the show around Africa, he picked me and Klint Da Drunk. Why? Because I can take my jokes in English and Pidgin. When you’re taking a show of that magnitude to African countries, you need comedians that can relate to everybody. So, I will say apart from Ghana, I’ve been countless times to East Africa, Kenya, Uganda. Also Rwanda and America. I was invited to the prestigious school, MIT, also.
How do you feel about comedians who steal other comedians’ jokes?
I don’t know. I create my jokes. Don’t forget, I’m a woman. So, my jokes are mostly for my gender. It’s kind of difficult for them to steal mine. That’s why Bros Ali is trying to build the new generation comics to be spontaneous.
How do you feel as Nigeria’s very first female comedian?
Proud, but sad that after 25 years, we still can count female comediennes on our finger tips. I thought by now we would have well over 50 comediennes in Nigeria and some in different states; not only Lagos. Time will heal that, I’m sure.
What do you do besides comedy?
I have been trying my hands on my second love, that’s sewing and designing clothes.
Is your daughter exhibiting traits of becoming a comedienne like you?
My daughter, no. She is a science student. She keeps telling me how she can’t wait to be my personal physician. The only thing I know she does, when she is not reading or watching TV, is to draw. She is a very good artist, at 13 years. If you see her paintings, you will be amazed.
What have you achieved as a comedienne?
God has been very faithful. The roof above my head is from comedy, and other things, but my greatest achievement, funny as it might sound, is school fees. Apart from all my property, that I regularly pay my daughter’s school fees from comedy, to me is an achievement. You won’t understand if your child does not stay in Lekki.
How often do you perform?
I perform almost every weekend.
Do you agree that Nigerian musicians seem to be more recognised internationally than the comedians?
My brother, the way they play their music, that their music videos are frequently watched, is different from watching jokes. I’m not into skits. I’m a standup comedian. But my friends in Uganda call me to help them hook up with Emmanuella. They watch her skits; so she is popular, same with our movie stars. They are frequently watched. That’s why I was trying to go around Africa to have a comedy show that will cut across our borders until I was denied Zimbabwean visa. I later found out that some African countries don’t permit you to enter their countries with a camera crew. I had to stop that programme.